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Michigan State University

Writing in the Medical Sciences: The Basics

This guide contains resources for writing in the medical field. Last updated: 4/24/19.

Writing Assistance

The MSU Writing Center provides writing assistance to students and faculty and is available for both in-person and online consultations.  

They also have a number of resources with writing advice, tips, and tricks.

Contact the Writing Center to schedule a writing consultation.

Academic Integrity

It is up to the writer to avoid plagiarism.  Here are a number of resources that discuss what to consider when writing to insure academic integrity:

Plagiarism 101     

What is Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

Why Cite?

Quoting and Paraphrasing

US Office of Research Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and other Questionable Writing Practices

Avoiding Plagiarism: Paraphrasing

Resources for International Students

Some language resources for writers who are not native English speakers and would like a little extra help or practice.

Handbook of Biomedical Research Writing

Originally written for Korean scientists in the biomedical sciences, this guide offers helpful information to other non-native English speakers.

Grammar and Writing Guides

Guide to Grammar and Writing

In-depth guide by the Capital Community College Foundation about grammar and how to avoid common writing mistakes.

Getting Started

When writing, it is important to have a clear idea of what you want to say as well as who your intended audience is. These resources discuss some of the things to keep in mind to make sure you get your point across clearly and concisely.

The Craft of Research

This book explains how to build a persuasive argument and anticipate and respond to the reservations of readers.

Generating Good Research Questions in Health Professions Education

This table from Academic Medicine walks you through the process of developing and evaluating your research question. 

Types of Writing in Medical Sciences

Throughout the course of your career in medicine you will be expected to produce writing in a number of different formats. The Writing Center at UNC at Chapel Hill has a number of short guides available on a wide range of topics about writing.

Some types of writing you may be expected to do, although not an inclusive list, include:

Two other guides from UNC that are extremely useful are the ones on Figures and Charts and Editing and Proofreading.

MSU Library Guide To Systematic Reviews

This guide contains information on how to conduct and write a systematic review, including tools and software you can use and how to get help from a librarian. 

Writing in the Health Sciences: A Comprehensive Guide

This guide developed by the University of Toronto also contains information on a wide range of writing types. Note: To access the full-text on a topic, select either the PDF or HTML link to the right of the topic name in the table of contents.

Equator Network Reporting Guidelines/Writing for Publication

The Equator Network provides a range of guidelines on what information to include when writing up different kinds of medical research, and the site links to some articles with other kinds of medical writing advice.

STM Report: an Overview of Scientific and Scholarly Publications

This report provides a good sense of how scientific journals are ranked and assessed and how the process of submission and publication works. 

Research Reporting Guidelines and Initiatives by Organization

This page includes links to research reporting guidelines from a number of major biomedical information groups, as well as some editorial style guides. 

Medical Terminology

The following resources are helpful for understanding and using medical terminology.

Stedman's Medical Dictionary

A direct link to this resource is not currently available. Selecting this link will take you to a sign-in page. You can use the institutional login in to log in via MSU, and then  access Stedman's, via Tools & Features above the list of titles on the left side of the page.

Understanding Medical Words

A tutorial from the National Library of Medicine.

Whonamedit? - Dictionary of Medical Eponyms

A great resource for medical eponyms - drugs or disease named after a person.

Librarians - Medicine

Citation Management Software

There are a number of citation management programs available, and the MSU Libraries provide instruction and support for three of them. Using a citation management program is highly recommended if you will be doing a large amount of writing because they help to easily collect, organize, and properly format citations.



How to choose a citation manager?